Frequently Asked Questions About Gorilla Trekking (FAQs)
Here we bring you the answers to frequently asked question by travellers who wish to know the best East African country to go gorilla trekking Uganda, Rwanda or DR-Congo. Mountain Gorillas (Gorilla beringei beringei) is one of the two subspecies of the eastern gorilla.
Gorilla trekking is an activity where tourists/ people go searching for gorillas in the wild (not actual dictionary definition). Gorilla trekking can be done in three countries, that is Uganda, Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo. To see gorillas involves hiking or trekking in search for the rare mountain gorillas. One needs to acquire a gorilla permit for Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park, Volcanoes National Park or Virunga National Park to be able to see these mountain gorillas. The process of gorilla trekking normally starts with an early morning briefing at respective park head quarters, then a hike or walk into the forest following the trail used by mountain gorillas and once found, you spend only one hour with the mountain gorillas. You will then return back and be offered a certificate. The trek itself may take up to 30 minutes or three quarters of the day but once you find gorillas, you are allowed to spend only one hour with them.
Every client wants to get the best out of the fee paid for gorilla trekking in Uganda at Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or in Rwanda at Volcanoes National Park and the first question that arises is-When is the best time for gorilla trekking in Uganda and Rwanda? While mountain gorillas in Uganda and Rwanda can be trekked throughout the whole year, drier months of June, July, August and early September then December up to February are the most preferred. There is no guarantee that it won’t rain as Bwindi Impenetrable Forest is a tropical rain forest and its climate is influenced by micro conditions of the area. During high season gorilla permits to visit gorillas in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park is USD1500 and Bwindi National Park is USD700 per person respectively. For those who are price sensitive, should take advantage of rwanda low season gorilla permits at USD1050.00 to book a Rwanda gorilla trek.
A gorilla permit allows you to sight mountain gorillas for one hour with in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Mgahinga Gorilla National Park or Volcanoes National Park. Included in the cost are park entry fees for the respective parks, services of National Park guides/rangers who will escort you to the forest. Trek Africa Expeditions will ensure that you secure permits in advance.
While we can never guarantee sightings, the rise of the gorilla populations in Uganda combined with the experience of your trekking guide means that encounters are almost always made in Bwindi or Mgahinga.
That said, you have to be prepared to work for it as you might have to trek for 6 hours before finding a habituated group.
If you do end up not seeing the gorillas, the Uganda Wildlife Authority will refund 50% of your permit cost. In all of our years of working in Uganda, we’ve never had anyone not see the gorillas.
It is now possible to trek Uganda or Bwindi gorillas through Rwanda by flying through Kigali International airport. By flying through Kigali International Airport, one is able to reduce the drive time to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park to 5-6 hours compared to if one uses Entebbe International Airport where the drive time is 8-9 and sometimes 10 hours from Entebbe to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. With the introduction of the East African tourist visa, one can now visit both Uganda and Rwanda without hassle. The good news also is that one can now apply for Rwanda Visa upon arrival something that is making the process of obtaining Rwanda visa easy. East African tourist visa costs USD100.00 and allows you to visit three east African countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Uganda. Contact Trek Africa Expeditions for details about Bwindi gorilla safaris through Kigali Airport.
Rwanda low season gorilla permits at USD1050 are offered in May and November each year and because of this discount, there is a likely hood that these permits may attract more people. It should be better to book these low season at least two months in advance to avoid short notice disappointments. Feel free to contact Trek Africa Expeditions about booking your low season Rwanda gorilla permits and safaris to visit Rwanda gorillas in Volcanoes National Park
Gorilla trekking is very safe – accompanied by an expert guide and the right mindset, your experience with the mountain gorillas will be as safe as it is moving.
Gorilla habituation experience is an activity in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park where tourists are allowed to stay four hours with mountain gorillas after paying USD1500.00 for a gorilla habituation permit. Gorilla habituation safaris are currently taking place only in Rushaga located in south.
A gorilla permit is a document/card that is obtained from Uganda Wildlife Authority for the case of Uganda and Rwanda Development Board in the case of Rwanda to allow you spend one hour with the mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Volcanoes National Park respectively. Currently Rwanda gorilla permit costs $1500.00 for Non residents. Uganda gorilla permits to visit mountain gorillas in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park and Mgahinga Gorilla National Park cost $700.00 (Non residents).
We advise you to book your Rwanda or Uganda gorilla permit at least three months in advance to shortage most especially during high season. Please contact us with the date when you intend to book gorilla tracking Uganda holidays and Rwanda gorilla trips and we will advise availability of permits on that day.
Mountain gorilla trekking exercise in Uganda or Rwanda can take from twenty minutes to three quarters of the day so one needs to prepare for both. This depends on several factors that include, mountain gorilla movements, where the gorillas stayed the previous night and the mood of the gorillas. It may also depend on the people in your group since the guides/rangers move following the slowest person in the group. Gorilla Tracking Uganda trading as Trek Africa Expeditions is happy to provide all relevant advice.
The age limit for gorilla trekking (Uganda and Rwanda) and golden monkey trekking (Uganda) is 15 years. The authorities are very strict on this, so kindly make sure all clients and children are 15 or older in order to avoid any sad incidents like guest(s) kids being refused to track. We ensure that before you book our Gorilla tracking Uganda safari holidays, you have all details concerning age!
Officially you are required to keep close by a 7 meters distance from the gorillas. In practice, the mountain Gorillas often violate this rule by coming closer to you as you stand quietly observing or photographing them. It is still helpful to have a telephoto capability on your camera since some animals are shy, and the Silverback may be very protective of the young. You are not allowed to touch the gorillas, though it would be easy to do so.
Gorilla Trekking has a numerical rating of 50 to 100 Difficult Rating: Moderate Hike There are many factors that influence the gorilla trekking difficulty and the commonest is your physical fitness. Others include weather conditions and your pack weight. It is possible to ask for a gorilla group that will march your fitness levels. A porter is important, Gorilla Trekking is not very hard, some people in their 60’s and 70’s have done it. So how strenuous is the hike? To begin with 60% of Bwindi Impenetrable National park has an elevation of over 6,600ft. Elevation of the entire park is from 3,904 to 8,553 ft. It has steep slopes in some areas. The experience takes between 2 to 6 hours depending on the gorilla family.